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Timing the “Talk:” Long Term Care Planning

 

Most people agree it isn’t an easy topic to broach—“Hey ma, you’re getting old and I’m worried you might get hurt while home alone.” And as much as you don’t want to say it, chances are your aging parents are reluctant to hear it. No one wants to face the possibility of losing his or her independence. Timing is everything when it comes to making good decisions about long term care. If you wait until you are in the middle of a crisis—for example, a parent has a fall and is no longer able to care for themselves when they are discharged from the hospital—emotions may fuel decisions rather than sound judgment.  Setting aside time to have a discussion with your parents about their finances and personal preferences regarding their health care as they age can ensure a smoother transition when and if the time comes. It is important to include all family members in the discussion early on, which can eliminate arguments and feuding down the road.

So what should you talk about? According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, you should cover the following basics during your conversation:

  • health care wishes
  • financial information
  • wills and trusts
  • names/addresses of close family friends
  • doctor’s and dentist’s names and phone numbers
  • insurance policy information

Discuss their feelings and concerns when it comes to remaining in their own home versus living in a nursing care facility. Talk about what can be done to make their home safer (possibly through adaptive home design) or bringing in outside caregiving help from a company like Home Care Plus, which can keep them independent longer. Bringing in an outside caregiving company can be more financially feasible than you think. Flexible hours with a caregiver can cover any gaps while you work or handle your own errands and personal needs. They are also professionally trained and can bring you peace of mind that your loved one is being properly looked after at all times—even when you can’t be there yourself.

Regardless of what decisions are made, having “the talk” with your aging parents before anything goes wrong will make implementation easier and help ensure everyone’s wishes are met.

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